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Thread: Biostar X370GT7 Review

  1. #1
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    Post Biostar X370GT7 Review


    X370GT7 Review



    Introduction

    Biostar, this is a name you could be forgiven for not hearing before or mistakenly thinking they aren't around anymore, they just don't feature as the subject of a review very often. Biostar were founded in 1986 as a global brand and have been around ever since offering primarily mainboards in varying tiers but have also branched out to include graphics cards from AMD and nvidia, as well as SSD drives, keyboards and mice, among other things. Mostly Biostar have quietly worked away doing their thing while the likes of Asus and MSI took all the recognition. Hopefully we can change that a bit today as I have in my hands one of Biostars latest offerings, the X370GT7 for AMDs AM4 platform which as you can no doubt surmise from its name is based on the X370 chipset.



    The Gallery

    Sadly the weather outside was poor today so more "exhibition" type photos were not possible but let's not let that deter us from seeing what the X370GT7 has to offer.





    The first thing we will note is that the board being reviewed today is the package that includes a free World of Tanks premium account not the package that includes the free 240GB SSD. I know, I would have liked seeing how good that 240GB SSD is as well.



    Looking at the board itself we can see that everything on the board is well laid out and it's worth noting that the shroud on the the board is made from metal not plastic like so many other boards are using. The metal shroud adds a nice extra level of quality and one all manufacturers should have if they put shrouds on their boards as plastic really detracts from the overall finish. The included M.2 heatsink is a nice added extra, the chipset heatsink underneath that "Racing" sticker is mostly finned and the VRM heatsinks look quite good but the lack of a finned design could pose problems. We will find that out later. The only two things that I find disappointing are the placement of the fan headers there are none on the right hand side of the board at all making connecting any front intake or outtake fans rather more difficult than it needs to be. The only other gripe is that this board only has 6x SATA ports, two more would have been much better allowing for greater storage expandability. I can't understand why Biostar didn't put 8x SATA ports on the board as you can see there does appear to be room to accommodate two extra ports. At the very least with only 6x SATA ports you would have thought Biostar would of added an extra M.2 slot.



    A bit of a Heinz 57 here with this I/O panel. I question why Biostar felt including the DVI port is necessary on an X370 board when there is already HDMI and Display Port connections. I think everybody would have rather seen additional USB ports in the place of that DVI port.



    Another pretty bare metal accessories bundle here which includes your standard expected cables, I/O shield, user manual and driver DVD. In an attempt to offer something different Biostar have included a vibration proof fan that you can plug in any way you desire and customise the LEDs. It's a nice added extra but a couple more SATA cables, padding on the back of the I/O shield and swapping the included fan for an LED strip instead would have made a more practical and functional bundle. Notably absent from the bundle is an SLI bridge as well as any mention of SLI or CF compatibility. The board would likely work just fine with two GPUs Biostar seemingly just haven't paid any applicable licensing fees to advertise such features meaning you'll be needing to source your own SLI bridge and seeing how things work out if you have dual GPUs.

    Overall this is certainly not the worst accessories bundle I've encountered Biostar have made an effort to make sure they give you something of actual practical use with the included fan but no SLI bridge is certainly going to irk some people.



    Test Setup

    CPU: AMD Zen 1700
    Mainboard: Biostar X370GT7
    RAM: 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V 3200MHz 15-15-15-35
    GPU: 4GB GTX 980 @ 1.5GHz, 7.5GHz memory
    Storage: 250GB Hynix SL301 SATA SSD, WD 120GB M.2 SATA SSD (OS drive), 2TB Seagate Barracuda
    Opticals: 24x Lite-On iHAS324 DVD-RW, 16x HP BH40N Blu-Ray
    Sound: Xonar DX 7.1, Realtek ALC1220
    PSU: EVGA 1000w Supernova G2
    OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 (latest ISO) and all updates
    Case: NZXT Phantom 530


    Laid to Bare



    Our first look at the GT7 stripped of the heatsinks and shrouding doesn't reveal anything too surprising there is the commonly used Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, Realtek RTL8118AS LAN, and that's it really. No extras here folks. The RTL8118AS might sound cheap on paper, but it is still capable of 1000Mbps so it's going to do a decent job at least should you require it. The touch sensitive buttons for power and reset are a nice addition and there are also LED indicators for "Eco" and "Racing" mode as well next to them. Biostar have also had the good sense to use a dual ROM setup so recovery from a bad flash is both quick and painless. Just flip a switch to the alternate ROM chip, enter the flash utility, flip the ROM switch back so the "bad" chip is active, flash and you are done.



    A 4+8 VRM design using Infineon PowIR 3555s rated for 60A, voltage stability should be good.



    Test Your Metal!

    The purpose in this section is to test thermodynamic efficiency of any heatsinks using BOINC and the SETI@Home project. As usual thermal pads on the VRM heatsinks are replaced with Laird 6W/m-k pads to ensure the highest possible level of consistency across reviews. We want to know how effective the heatsink design is without differing stock thermal pads playing any factor.

    For those that don't know the most efficient type of heatsink is always one that uses high grade thermal interface material, the thinner the better, good contact between heatsink and IC (a good, solid imprint of the heatsinked ICs is a sure indication of optimal contact), solid way of mounting the heatsinks, and the heatsinks themselves will have a lot of fins to maximise cooling capacity and take advantage of any natural airflow with the base of the heatsink being free of any milling marks that would hinder thermal efficiency.

    For testing I will be using a DT8380 infrared temperature gun, accurate to +/- 2%.



    Looking at thermal contact for the VRM heatsinks it's immediately clear to see that there is nothing to worry about the VRM heatsinks will make excellent contact. The design of the VRM heatsinks is a bit on the troubling side though it is yet another design that is mostly just one large metal lump and no fins so once again any natural airflow in a case is going to go to waste. I'm disappointed by every AM4 board I have tested in this regard to date by manufacturer's disregard for keeping VRM temperatures as low as possible but at least with these heatsinks the base of them is well finished there are no milling marks to speak of. Of final note is the M.2 heatsink, it is finned underneath that carbon fibre looking cover and it does come with a pre-applied thermal pad for any M.2 SSDs that do not come with a heatsink to take advantage of.



    As I suspect you would of all been thinking after looking at the VRM heatsinks and my comments the Biostar X370GT7 VRM heatsinks are not really any better or worse than those with other AM4 boards I have tested to date although these results could be so much better if a manufacturer were to just design a grown-ups enthusiast class board and not the equivalent of a boy racer board. In short I?m saying manufacturers need to think less about aesthetic heatsink design and much more about an efficient design. If a manufacturer is so inclined to add aesthetic elements to a board there are plenty of other ways they can do it without sacrificing the efficiency of heatsinks.



    The UEFI

    All screenshots have been taken from UEFI 919. There are more options in this UEFI than you can shake a stick at so I'll be showing you just the pages that the majority of people will be most interested in.



    Starting with the "Advanced" tab as you can see there are more options to tweak and fiddle with than most other (if not all other) AM4 boards Biostar have given you access to some low level, very close to the metal options here. Good stuff.



    Nothing unusual here but the CPU configuration being displayed is a nice added bonus. I like seeing details like this.



    Lots of versatility for fan control although it should be noted that while testing 3-pin fans minimum and maximum settings are not working no matter how I adjusted settings any 3-pin fan I tried always spun at full speed. The GT7 manual does claim support for 3-pin fans so we can only assume this is a firmware bug as this is not an issue on the Asrock or Gigabyte boards I tested. 4-pin PWM fans do work perfectly fine though.



    Pretty ordinary health status monitoring here, it would be nice to see more boards include a sensor for VRM temperatures and report it on the health status screen. While it's not a rail that's really used anymore I do find it odd that there is no +3.3v rail reading as well.



    Probably the page of most interest to people the ONE page contains the majority of options for overclocking. "Memory Insight" is another nice added touch (albeit just a convenience one) that allows you to directly view the pre-programmed DRAM speed data of your modules. "CPU Clock" allows you to change the CPU bus speed although with the tested hardware today even a setting of a mere 100.3MHz caused the Western Digital M.2 SSD to stop being recognised. Rather inconvenient considering it is the OS boot drive.



    Being able to save up to 5 profiles is quite generous which is good what's not so good is that I noted any saved profiles also get wiped on CMOS clear. Bug report. Oddly you also can't have spaces in the profile names, even an underscore doesn't work.

    Quirks aside the UEFI of the GT7 is feature rich and gives you access to some interesting bare metal options. Novices might find the options daunting at first but all the basic options are here just like with other AM4 boards while the more advanced options offer a most welcome choice of being able to delve deeper if you desire.



    Benchmarks

    I have a more streamlined way I'll be benchmarking mainboards from this point on, all boards based on the same chipset perform extremely similarly so instead I'll be shifting my focus more on to standard tests and hardware compatibility.


    Crystal DiskMark



    Being a board from a manufacturer not often seen I felt it of interest to check storage performance today to see where the board sits compared to other AM4 boards and their storage performance. As can be seen the Biostar X370GT7 is no slouch returning very good results for both SSDs with the mechanical drive, as usual, looking like something out of the prehistoric era. It should be noted that the WD Green M.2 SSD is not listed on Biostar's compatibility list but none the less works perfectly fine.


    Aida64

    For these tests I have chosen to manually set timings to 16-15-15-15-36 as the GT7 shares a common oddity all other boards I?ve tested have also exhibited. At 3200MHz the CAS latency "locks" itself to 16 even when manually setting it to 15 so for consistency I chose to set CAS to 16 from the start.



    Right away we see why nobody should be using 2133MHz RAM on the AM4 platform, that memory latency is going to potentially have quite an impact on a multitude of different tasks with 1080p gaming and any memory sensitive applications possibly being the worst affected. Moving up just one step to 2400MHz there's almost a 10ns drop in memory latency which is certainly nothing to sniff at, bandwidth remains nothing out of the ordinary but that isn't any fault of the GT7 just not a high enough memory frequency. The real win here is the sizeable drop in latency at 2400MHz.





    Looking at the 2667, 2933 and 3200 results a familiar pattern emerges as with the lower frequency results, bandwidth and latency scale well with memory frequency and compatibility remains excellent. Biostar seem to of ensured there are no glaringly obvious bugs such as broken memory dividers, that's more than I can say for some manufacturers. Well done Biostar on ensuring memory compatibility is up to par. You have justified the initial delay of your AM4 boards to work on memory compatibility excellently here.


    Fire Strike



    A fine result for a system running 2133MHz RAM and the R7 1700 manually set to its maximum advertised boost clock of 3.7GHz. This is in fact the fastest Fire Strike score I have to date when compared to all other AM4 boards I've reviewed so far beating other stock results by a good 300 points margin, very impressive indeed.


    Cinebench R15



    Completing the stock synthetic tests is Cinebench R15, results here show just what fast RAM can do even in a CPU limited test. Jumping from 1615 to 1662 through just increasing RAM frequency is certainly a nice increase to have such increases you would usually only see when overclocking the CPU itself but I doubt you will see much real world benefit above 2667MHz in most tasks. This results table will grow once I've tested some more CPUs.



    Moving on to a real world test now the Stalker Call of Pripyat benchmark may be old but the X-Ray engine is a demanding beast that depends heavily on the CPU and memory subsystem not just the GPU. As such it is an excellent test for rooting out any potential system bottleneck.



    Increasing memory frequencies shows the effects on real world applications that are sensitive to memory speed and latency. Much like the synthetic Cinebench results the Stalker benchmark shows some benefit with faster RAM but these differences with the latest Windows 10 build are far less than they once were suggesting Microsoft have done at least some work to Windows under the hood for Zen. One test certainly isn't enough to say the high latency slower memory shown in the AIDA results will no longer be an issue for every application that is memory sensitive but it is an indicator of a step in the right direction at least.



    Software

    I don't usually look at any software supplied with mainboards nor do I use the drivers supplied on the DVD as they are always outdated (and that still holds true here today) however I did think it would be of benefit to include a software section as Biostar are such a rarity for coming along with something in the enthusiast arena.

    In terms of custom nice modern UI designs for the ALC1220 don't expect anything special all you get is the default dated looking Realtek control panel. It's quite disappointing really as a smarter modern CP skin wouldn't have required much effort on Biostars part. Put just a little effort in to a custom UI for the Realtek CP will you Biostar, please?



    In terms of Biostar specific software I first installed and attempted to run the RacingGT utility. It did not run when I tried after a restart of the system. No problem, I'll try again with it running with administrator permissions I thought but upon going to check that option I discovered it is already checked, so trying to run the RacingGT utility was a complete bust.

    One piece of software that does bear commending though is the BIOScreen utility. This handy little tool allows you to update the POST (Power On Self Test) splash screen with any image you want. I wish more manufacturers would give you utilities like this as they do add a very individual touch to customisation allowing you to make your system truly unique. Fortunately, this utility actually works unlike the RacingGT utility.




    My personal customised splash screen for the Biostar GT7



    Overclocking

    Overclocking proved to be every bit as easy as on other boards I have tested with more advanced options being available no doubt appreciated by any serious overclocker that likes to tweak and tune their system down to the smallest detail. Memory compatibility has also proven to be excellent with 3333MHz 1T coming easily and 3466MHz 1T looking like it will be stable as well with some minor fine tuning.





    Now I've tested a decent handful of AM4 boards I'll also be including a graph of maximum stable CPU overclocks achieved at reasonable voltage levels using a Cooler Master MasterLiquid 240 fitted with 2 additional fans and the base of the pump block lapped.



    All boards are not created equal. Something bore out in this chart by the Aorus board, its weaker VRM area and much more unstable vcore is the culprit here for why it is not able to maintain a stable 3.9GHz at 1.35v. In fact the Aorus board could only maintain a stable 3.85GHz with 1.35v and a high level of LLC added, due to vcore bouncing all over the place 1.39v is just the average vcore reading it bounced anywhere between 1.36v and 1.41v which was the closest I could get to a stable 1.35v. The Asrock and Biostar boards had no such troubles vcore remained relatively stable even under the heaviest of CPU loads. The Biostar board did however show another quirk of its own here, when manually setting 1.35v with LLC enabled it would cause the voltage to get "stuck" around the 1.226v - 1.27v mark. Disabling LLC resolved this issue.

    EDIT 13/12/17: What I forgot to mention here is how the work carried out by manufacturers and AMD on the firmware have improved overclocking quite considerably in varying ways. All those refinements with the newest firmware releases have made a noticeable improvement.



    Conclusion

    We come to a close on another exhaustive people's review and one that has certainly been a pleasant experience. There are some drawbacks with the Biostar X370GT7 just like any other board but there are not many of them and most of them are minor. A couple extra SATA ports or an extra M.2 slot would have been nice as would have a couple fan headers being placed on the right hand side of the board and some extra USB ports instead of that DVI port but physically they are the only drawbacks of the GT7. USB connectivity and storage expandability isn't the most generous there is out there but it's not too bad either. The UEFI is quite well organised and laid out although there are some reasonably minor issues and bugs I'd like to see Biostar address such as that 3-pin fan adjustment issue, saved profiles that are not preserved after a CMOS clear and the most bothersome of all, that LLC issue. The lack of an included SLI bridge is also sadly a black mark against the GT7. I would also like to see Biostar give the UEFI a more modern colour scheme at least and see a custom modern UI for the Realtek control panel instead of the dated generic one. First impressions and presentation count for a lot these days Biostar, it's not 2001 anymore.

    Where the X370GT7 does excel is in sheer performance, the amount of UEFI options on offer and hardware compatibility with a good array of devices and components were tested all of which functioned very well without issue. Do bear in mind if you have a set of G.Skill Ripjaws and are struggling to reach their rated frequency that I found DIMM banks A2 and B2 the best for compatibility easily allowing my particular test kit to reach their rated 3200MHz. The inclusion of touch sensitive power and reset buttons is a nice touch (pun intended!) and a dual ROM setup to be able to easily recover from a bad flash is always an extremely welcome sight. The Biostar X370GT7 also proved itself to be a very good overclocker that in the memory department in particular with some fine tuning has a lot more to offer. In terms of looks the GT7 is appealing enough and the LEDs look quite nice albeit they are not the brightest losing out to even the LED fans I use that have lost a good 20% of their brightness compared to when they were new.

    Biostar have done a pretty nice job with the GT7 I do hope Biostar address the firmware issues as the GT7 has the potential to be one of the finest X370 boards you can buy particularly at its price of 157 pounds. I will be getting in contact with Biostar regarding the firmware issues and will update this review.


    Hardware Functionality & Quality: 17 / 20
    Accessories: 6 / 10
    Aesthetics: 6 / 10
    UEFI Functionality & Quality: 23/ 30
    Performance 30 / 30

    Final Score: 82%
    Last edited by Ket; 02-20-2018 at 01:06 PM.

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  2. #2
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    As promised here is the update to this review. I have been in contact with Biostar and all of the quirks and bugs that I found they are working on to fix. This speaks volumes for Biostar a company that is willing to listen to feedback then take that feedback and improve what they have already done is deserving of doing well. Once the fixes and improvements land I'll do a final verdict test. You have the chance to earn the highest score I've given any X370 board so far here Biostar.

    "Prowler"
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  3. #3
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    This motheboard it's on the road to me. Paired with a R5 1600X and memory F4-3200C16D-8GVK( 16GB too expensive for start). Hope it will be good.
    Only thing the bios it's a little complicated in the oc section.
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  4. #4
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    It should serve you quite well, the latest firmware Biostar released addresses some of the quirks I had and they threw in in some fixes for some of the issues I told them about before releasing the firmware to the public. There is still some quirks but they are pretty minor I hope now christmas is over they get to fixing those outstanding issues the board could be quite stellar if they do.

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  5. #5
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    So after some short tests(i have almost no any time this month) my conclusions are:
    1. Very good mb on cpu side, good stability, good frecuency, 4.2ghz on air it's reachable for bench.
    Se photo
    2. Not so good on memory voltage, only 0.300v+ offset but the thing is that it seems that it counts from 1.2v spd, because at 0.130 i have 1.35v value in bios monitor.
    So than only 1.5v Max? To little.
    Also i don't have good performance on memory above 3200( although 3200 could be use stable).
    I have better performance in Super Pi on 2933 CL14 than on 3200 CL16.
    No i have a pretty weak kit some Samsund D 3200CL16 2*4GB, so overclock above i can do only 3333 32M, 3466 are not stable. May be a much better kit will obtain much better results.
    But for now in DDR voltage at least the motheboard it's very limited.

    Ket can you please suges them something in this department?

    As for esthetical appeareance , the bord it's extraordinary with LED's on all the radiators.

    P.S: All my results with the latest bios.
    Last edited by xdan; 01-22-2018 at 12:06 PM.
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  6. #6
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    I contacted Biostar regarding memory compatibility a while ago. They said its something they were going to work on and a firmware update would be released when its ready. My guess is anything they are working on would get added to any firmware update to support the new Zen+ CPUs. The GT7 while it did pretty well definitely needs some more tuning my Samsung B-Die didn't want to be stable above 3333MHz 1T nomatter what I did but I know in general the kit will do 3600MHz with tweaking and 3466MHz usually isn't hard to get stable but the GT7 was having none of it the board would boot 3466 but only stable up to 3333.
    Last edited by Ket; 01-24-2018 at 04:23 AM.

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  7. #7
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    A very delayed update for the GT7; after much probing I have finally (and hopefully) managed to get the ear of the right people at Biostar to bring about the much needed bug fixes to the GT7 and likely the GT8 as the bugs and issues the GT7 has likely affects the GT8 as well. I will endevour to work with Biostar to finally get these things addressed for everyone.

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    UPDATE 22/11/18

    After many months and hours giving Biostar every chance to overhaul their GT7/8 firmware and trying to work with them to accomplish this it is with the upmost seriousness that I say Biostar have absolutely no interest in improving and refining the firmware for these boards, you cannont have good hardware without good software and vice versa. Until Biostar learn to understand and care about supporting and improving their products with firmware updates like other manufacturers do as such based on doing everything they asked, extremely comprehensively cataloging every issue I found for them to easily look at themselves as well as them being made fully aware of the hardware the test system uses to replicate the issues and them repeatedly going radio silent to the findings it is with every fiber of my being that I strongly recommend you buy from Asrock, MSI, or Asus instead. Do not waste your time or money on Biostar.

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